Tackling the garden
I’ve been spending a bit of time in the garden this weekend, following a lightning trip clearing up six months’ worth of debris prior to my parents visiting on Easter Sunday last weekend.
For the longest time I’ve stood at our kitchen window and looked at our slightly wonky looking garden and felt guilty as what I reckons looks like an unloved strip of land.
Yes, the flowerbeds are marked out and there are shrubs denoting where previous gardening efforts have successfully clung on for life, but still I want the area outside to look better.
If it looks better I’ll want to spend more time out there. But of course, it will only look better if I spend a little more time tidying up and loving the plants just a little more.
So I’ve drawn up a list and tackled things in bite-sized chunks. Here’s what I’ve tackled:
I have a weakness for pots. I’ve bought loads of them over the past few years along with the polystyrene trays of bedding plants I succomb to at HomeBase. God only knows why. They’re the worst way to grow plants, or even to maintain life. As much I want the patio and decking outside the back door to be festooned with coloured flowers dangling over the sides of pots, the reality of having to water the damn pots every day is a real pain in the arse.
So, job number one. I’ve emptied the pots of the soil, discarded the really crappy looking stuff and left what appears to be half decent stuff in an old bark chipping bag. The pots are all lined up waiting for something to be planted even though I know planting brings with it the responsibility of watering. An afternoon spent browsing the BBC’s Dig In site and I think I’m going for mixed salad leaves and carrots. Maybe basil. I’m not sure yet.
I’ve mown the lawn once so far this year – last weekend. And whilst the good weather means the grass needs cutting again, I daren’t retrieve the lawn mower from the shed. The last escapade saw me slice the cables linking the garden lights together.
I’m no real expert on gardening, it has to be said. I know when things feel right. I know when things look right. I also tend to know when things don’t look right. But taking the appropriate action to make those wrong things right is an entirely different matter.
The smoke bush in our garden was looking a little leggy. I really want it to be a bit bushy. So following some advice I’ve found on the internet, I took to doing a little pruning.
The truth is, I couldn’t go the whole hog and prune down to 2-3 feet above the ground like the advice in this blog post. It seemed like there would be nothing left at all. Quite apart from anything else I didn’t have a saw to tackle the thicker stems at the base. Still, I figure I’ve got a few days grace and may return to lopping the majority of the stems off. I shall report back.
Pruning is, I’ve got to say, the most difficult of jobs. There’s a tendency to prune to make the unruly thing you see before you look more neat and tidy. Pruning is, instead, meant to be about optimising growth of the plant in the future. A very difficult thing for those of us with OCD tendencies and a distinct lack of patience.
Pottering in the garden is a tonic in itself. It doesn’t really matter how little is done. It is the mere fact that something is being done which chips away at the guilt.
Stumbling on unexpected growth has exactly the same effect. Something which might look like it’s dead and destined for the dump could well be the very thing which is sporting the tiniest of buds on it’s dead wood. So it is with the potted lemon verbena which I’d almost given up hope on when I looked at it at the end of the other pots waiting to be emptied. The lemon verbena is a particular favourite of mine. I’m glad it’s back for the season.
The other surprise was a climber which I’d also considered was a complete no-hoper which, unbeknownst to me, had attached itself around another shrub during the winter and started growing vigorously around it. No surprises the original shrub had been suffocated to such an extent the snapping branches really indicate death had set in. So I’m also quite pleased to see this mysteriously, unidentified climber have has secured it’s place in the garden. I don’t recall having seen it flower before. Maybe this year will be it’s year.